071013 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life – part six – Following the Mediterranean style diet may be better for your overall health and quality of life.

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life – part six – Following the Mediterranean style diet may be better for your overall health and quality of life.

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

In the majority of the world’s advanced nations, many avoidable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could be prevented or at least decreased in number if their citizens would simply follow a healthier lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating nutritious foods would go a long way towards easing the healthcare costs and improving the lives of uncounted millions of people.

Following the Mediterranean style diet may be better for your overall health and quality of life.

As a refresher, the Mediterranean diet consists of eating fish, fruits and nuts, olive oil, vegetables and whole grains. It has been linked to lowering the risks of numerous chronic, potentially preventable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and the metabolic syndrome. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the metabolic syndrome here is a brief explanation from the National Heart Lung And Blood Institute.

Metabolic (met-ah-BOL-ik) syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease.

In this explanation, “heart disease” refers to coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque (plak) builds up inside the coronary (heart) arteries.

Plaque hardens and narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to your heart muscle. This can lead to chest pain, a heart attack, heart damage, or even death.

Metabolic Risk Factors

The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

• A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape.” Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.
• A high triglyceride level (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.
• A low HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.
• •High blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup. High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

After reviewing the syndrome and the problems associated with the conditions listed perhaps, the Mediterranean style diet is more appealing. A study, recently published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed 11,015 students attending an unnamed University for four years. At the conclusion each one was asked to rate their mental and physical health. The researchers found that those who closely adhered to the Mediterranean over the four years scored higher on the quality of life issues in the questionnaire. In their report, the scientists stated, “adherence to the Mediterranean diet seems to be a factor importantly associated with a better health-related quality of life.”

Potential changes in behavior considerations

By knowing the damage the diseases of the metabolic syndrome cause and then reviewing the Mediterranean diet and the potential health benefits of following such a plan, perhaps now is the time to seriously consider changing our dietary eating habits.